If realism sought to portray life as it was, naturalism sought to go further: to depict human beings as objects of scientific study, and events in human lives as the outcome of natural laws. Characters like the doomed protagonist of "To Build a Fire" are at the mercy of nature and their own base, predictable instincts. Human lives are overdetermined by a material universe that is not hostile, but coldly indifferent. Violence, war, and the survival instinct are common themes.
This unit includes several Naturalist classic pieces of short fiction, including works by Crane, London and Bierce; a lecture on Naturalism in fiction by Donna Campbell; questions for discussion and analysis; a quiz on "To Build a Fire," and an analytical essay assignment.
Click here: Bierce, "Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" text
Click here: Bierce, "Horseman in the Sky" text
Click here: Crane, "An Episode of War" text
Click here: Bierce and Crane questions for analysis
Click here: London, "To Build a Fire" text, quiz, and analytical essay assignment